Next time you are on a road trip and the kids all yell “What’s that smell?” you may be in the danger zone. In a sobering and eye-opening study, scientists explained why driving by cattle yards may not just be problematic because of the foul odor. The study, entitled “Antibiotics, Bacteria, and Antibiotic Resistance Genes: Aerial Transport from Cattle Feed Yards via Particulate Matter,” was released on January 22, 2015. For this new study, environmental researchers at Texas Tech University set out to determine whether these antibiotics, bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes were airborne.

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers gathered airborne particulate matter from 10 commercial cattle yards near Lubbock, Texas, within a six-month period. The cattle yards chosen for the study each had 20,000 to 50,000 cattle. They discovered that the air downwind of the yards contained antibiotics, bacteria and a significantly greater concentration of microbial communities with antibiotic-resistant genes. This advanced publication of their findings will be published in the next Environmental Health Perspectives issue. MORE